March 16th, 2010
10:39 AM ET

NASA discovers life hidden 600 feet below Antarctic ice

A three-inch long Lyssianasid amphipod (seen in orange) was found on the underside of the McMurdo ice shelf in Antarctica.

Six hundred feet below the Antarctic ice, where no light can be found, NASA scientists made a startling discovery – a swimming shrimp-like creature that could challenge the idea of where and how forms of life can survive.

While the creature is small itself -– only about three inches long -– its impact could be tremendous.

A NASA team had lowered a small video camera to get the first-ever photograph of the underside of an ice shelf – and that’s when they saw the swimming creature, according to a NASA document.

The discovery could shake the very foundation of what kind of creatures can survive in certain atmospheres.

"We were operating on the presumption that nothing's there," NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler told the Associated Press. "It was a shrimp you'd enjoy having on your plate."

"We were just gaga over it," he told the AP.

The creature, a Lyssianasid amphipod, could lead the way for larger expeditions into harsher environments that scientists previously believed could not support life – both on the Earth and even frozen moons in outer space.

soundoff (608 Responses)
  1. Kirk

    This shrimp is HUGE.
    No, not in size, in Importance.
    That one picture paid for the mission.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Debbie in Dallas

    I'd much rather that NASA engage in projects like this to determine living conditions in a hostile environment than to spend billions of dollars to send a probe to Jupiter's moon to find out the same. NASA has two overall objectives: to explore space and to put humans in space. This project falls under objective number one.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jill

    if no light penetrates – how come this creature is orange? how does it maintain its color.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. A. Einstein

    Who can explain to me how it is possible that the image of the Lyssianasid amphipod is "backlighted – backlit"? In other words, in an environment 600 feet below sea level where there is only darkness how it there light from above? Please ... your hypothesis is welcome.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gino J

    Too funny. A shrimp we'd like to see on our plate. Sign me up! What's the going rate for an Antarctic shrimp dinner? :}

    March 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sergio Lapel

    I believe that the prehistoric shark, Megalodon, which grew to over lengths of over 100 feet, still exists at depth that humans can't reach. One day, this shark will resurface and there will be hell to pay.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mouse

    Soon Scientists will find ice plants in Antartica under 600 ft. below of ice. 😛

    March 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    Here we go again... invading untouched areas of the planet. I wonder how many new species of virus's and bacteria have been introduced into that area now that we've contaminated it.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nelson

    NASA was drilling there because their new sensors detected a large metal iobject under the Antartic shelf.........

    March 16, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LDopa

    Sure that isn't a tiny space shuttle swimming around down there, NASA?

    March 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. llmfover

    NASA, the only time "Drill Here Drill Now" actually makes any sense!! 🙂

    March 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ed

    Typical of us humans; not only to believe that life only can exist where we only think it should, but to then to disrupt this little guy's environment. Trust me there will be more than just this one hole made; not to mention that we just introduced any germs, trash, ect into this environment.

    BTW...should'nt NASA be working on a space station somewhere; yep, leaving more trash in space too!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jojo

    This is great news. As far as exploration of space goes, we're out there looking for life. Since my assumption is life is out there and they may be even more intelligent than us, they're also looking for us. The shrimp may have a disease to kill us like someone said but it may also have something to cure us as well. Human exploration brings us both the good and how we use it in-turn can make it bad. If it wasn't for exploration, the keys you type on now wouldn't even exists. Lets keep exploring. Obama put money towards education and not war!

    March 16, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    I'm thinking that this was not NASA, it was probably the NSF. NSF runs the McMurdo and South Pole research stations

    March 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LessTalkable

    I'm honestly saddened at the level of sheer ignorance that the people who comment on CNN seem to show toward science in general.

    You people literally have no idea what you are talking about.

    This is a ground-breaking discovery that could lend itself toward the search for life on planets and moons with very harsh environments that we previously wouldn't have even considered looking at.

    Science will never be understood by the general public.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
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